AFC title game an 'opportunity,' not redemption for Blake Bortles

From ESPN - January 18, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles is still standing.

Much to the chagrin of a legion of critics and angry NFL players, the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback is getting ready to play another game this week. Not Alex Smith, the NFLs highest-rated passer in 2017, or Matthew Stafford, the highest-paid player in the NFL.

Not Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco, both of whom have won championships.

Bortles, the laid-back guy who showed up to his Wednesday news conference in sweat pants and slippers, is one of the four quarterbacks who are one victory away from a Super Bowl. Yet he refuses to see that as any sort of redemption.

I dont think so, he said. Personally, I do not care. I look at it as it is an incredible opportunity to continue to be able to play football at this time of year. I think it is pretty awesome, especially, to be able to share this with those guys in that locker room.

We are one of four teams that get to come out and practice on Wednesday today. That is special. It is something that everybody dreams of, something that everybody works towards. For us to be able to be here and be in this position is pretty awesome.

It really should be a How Do You Like Me Now? moment for Bortles, who has been taking mortar fire from NFL players throughout the season -- including guys such as Jurrell Casey (Bortles will choke), Jadeveon Clowney (hes trash), Vontaze Burfict (he cant beat the Bengals) and Earl Thomas (hes a subpar QB). He has won two playoff games by throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 123 yards -- and, most importantly, not turning the ball over.

Thats a long way from August, when he was benched before the Jaguars third preseason game and had to win his job back. There was speculation that the team would cut the third overall pick in 2014 and go with Chad Henne and start the search for a franchise quarterback anew in the 2018 draft.

Bortles won the job back and has taken all but 23 snaps this season, missing time in a blowout victory over Baltimore in September and to receive IV fluids against Houston in December.


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